SMEs: Take care of creditors

09 June 2019 | Banking

Windhoek • Mbo Luvindao

There comes a time in any entrepreneur’s lifecycle when situations get tough. With the persisting drought combined with a challenging economic environment, entrepreneurs may find themselves faced with cash flow difficulties, which can negatively affect payments to creditors.

A creditor could be a supplier or person that has provided money, goods or services to a business and expects to be paid on an agreed date. Any business will find it difficult to survive when faced with cash flow issues. This can be tough for the business, which might find itself late or missing its financial obligations agreed with creditors. To be on top of the situation, it is best to communicate with your creditors beforehand.

Here are seven tips to guide you on how to communicate with creditors during tough times:

• Do not wait for your creditors to call you – be the one to open up the channel of communication. Make sure that you reread and study your contract and statements and do some research on your rights and that of the creditor so that you are well informed. Once you have the necessary information, request to meet with your creditors, possibly in person as this will demonstrate yours seriousness of trying to find a solution to the problem.

• Creditors have heard it all. Be honest and tell them the reason why you could not make your payment and provide as much information as possible. Even if you may have been irresponsible, tell your creditors – they will appreciate your honesty.

• Backed up with further information gathered before the meeting, have conversations with your creditors while you negotiate possible solutions. This will start to open up new options regarding your payment options and arrangements.

• Look at the income and expenditure of your business before agreeing to any payment arrangement. Make an offer first, for instance if you know that you can only make payment in a month’s time, ask for an extra month so that you do not run the risk of putting yourself under unnecessary pressure to deliver on the promise.

• When you and your creditor have made an agreement, keep track of whom you spoke to and make sure that there is a signed written record of any agreement with your creditors.

• Keep your creditors informed of any new developments in yours business. This will grow your relationship with your creditors in a long term.

• Communicating with your creditors can save you money, time, energy and stress. The experience of approaching them in times of trouble can be a life changing one. It might also be your first step to financial freedom.

As a Namibian bank, which values customer relationships, Bank Windhoek understands that entrepreneurs, besides making a profit, also face financial risks. The Bank has a mentorship programme dedicated to entrepreneurs. This is Bank Windhoek’s way of investing within the communities where it is active.

* Mbo Luvindao is the manager of Bank Windhoek’s ESME finance branch

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